Supervisor Jake McGoldrick: Budget, Prop. D, Ladders City Budget

This year has been difficult for city government, namely because the city's fiscal year 2008-2009 budget faced a projected $338 million deficit. I have been receiving both congratulations and condolences since I was assigned as chair of the Budget and Finance Committee in early March. This will be truly a year of difficult choices.

The actual budget process begins in December of the previous year, when the mayor gives technical and policy instructions to city departments regarding department budgets. During January and February, the departments seek public input and put together budgets which are transmitted to the controller at the end of February. The controller consolidates all the budgets and transmits the consolidated draft budget to the mayor's office by March.

On May 1, the mayor's office releases select enterprise funded department budgets for the SF Board of Supervisor's deliberations. (Enterprise funded departments are those that are self-sufficient for the most part, relying on their own fees.) The mayor's proposed budget, which consists of the departments that rely on the city's General Fund, is presented to the board by the start of June.

During the month of June, the Budget and Finance Committee will continue review of all city operations and costs.

By the last day of July, the Board of Supervisors must adopt a balanced budget with recommendations and amendments.

You can get involved in a number of ways. The June budget hearing schedule is published on the board's Web site at The hearings begin on June 16 and run through June 26. Public comment for all department budgets will be taken on June 19 in Room 250, City Hall. You may also e-mail, call or drop by your supervisors' offices with specific requests, whether you have an organization that is affected by the cuts or if you have an idea for revenue generation or cost savings within the City.

The board will be hard at work during June taking note of the your priorities, while searching for creative solutions to balance the budget. I urge you to pay attention to the budget process this year, and let us know how public funds ought to be directed.

June Initiative: Prop. D
I have a charter amendment on the June ballot which I feel is important for the people of San Francisco. The Commission on the Status of Women recently conducted a survey of San Francisco's commissions, boards and task forces and found that membership on these advisory bodies does not reflect San Francisco's demographics. There is a dearth of women, minorities and other groups serving on advisory boards. This reflects poorly on government process, as only those truly represented can participate in a democracy and be truly governed.

In response, I asked that it be official city policy to appoint an authentically diverse group of commissioners to the advisory bodies that serve at the very core of our government. People of all disability types, of all races, ethnic backgrounds and sexual orientation make up our vibrant and amazing City, and they should be heard in our policies and government in much the same way. In order to track the progress San Francisco is making on this official city policy, the Commission on the Status of Women will report on the diversity of these bodies every other year.

I ask you to support this proposition.

Wooden Ladders
On St. Patrick's Day, last year, a young man, age 25, fell to his death from a visibly rotten wooden ladder at a residence in the Richmond District. He had climbed the wooden ladder to access the roof of a friend's apartment in order to watch the sunset. As he reached for the second to last rung on the four-story ladder, the rung broke and the recent college grad, Alex Berthet, lost his life.

This type of tragic and heartbreaking incident could be prevented in the future if private property owners are more aware of the dangers presented by un-maintained ladders and make additional efforts to comply with applicable code requirements. Lack of attention to these safety issues could result in this happening to any of us. Our children, friends, neighbors and loved ones could unwittingly be putting their lives in jeopardy.

I believe immediate action is necessary. Thus, I am currently working on legislation that would require property owners to dispose of or replace wooden ladders attached to buildings with code-complying materials, such as steel. I encourage all property owners and renters to make sure that ladders in their buildings are safe and up to current codes.

To arrange for an inspection or to place a complaint, please contact the Housing Inspection Services Division of the Department of Building Inspection at 558-6200. We need to make sure that no one else faces the same fate as Alex, a much-missed member of his community who was much too young to lose his life.

Jake McGoldrick is a San Francisco supervisor representing District 1.